Portal Is Free

Portal is completely free to play until May 24th. Not that you haven’t already bought it. Right?

Get it here. Even for Macs. (Mac version of Steam is out too.)


  1. CMaster says:

    There isn’t actually a page there. Odd.

    • Gotem says:

      The page is a lie

    • Veret says:

      Works fine for me. I would have tested the download link, but I already have the game. What part isn’t showing up for you guys?

    • CMaster says:

      Works now.
      Before I just got served a blank page.
      Literally 0 bytes of information.
      But not a 404 or any similar error.

  2. a says:

    What is Portal?

  3. robrob says:

    A shrewd move by Valve to kick start its Mac user base. They really do get this business lark don’t they?

    • Vinraith says:

      It seems like an odd choice to go with a single player game that can be completed in the free play window very easily, doesn’t it? As opposed to, say, TF2 or something else long-term where you would get free press and probably sell quite a few copies? Not that I doubt Valve’s business acumen, I’m sure they’ve thought this through and have a reason for doing it this way.
      I could understand it as a Portal 2 promotion, but it’s way too early for that to stick, surely?

    • LionsPhil says:

      @Vinraith: Well, Aperture Labs are closest to the Mac aesthetic, with all those clean white surfaces and simple inforgraphics. ;)

      Hell, insert the Portal sentry vs TF2 sentry “I’m a Mac; I’m a PC” here.

      I’m more interested if in the wording of “until the 24th” means “on the 24th, we DRM-revoke your license”, like the TF2 free-plays.

    • PeopleLikeFrank says:

      @ Vinraith

      Portal is the only Valve game released for OS X at the moment, I’m guessing TF2 and the L4Ds aren’t ready yet.

    • Veret says:

      They’ve just given one of the most universally appealing games in history away, for free, to the entire market they’re trying to court. Over the next twelve days Steam will be appearing on an enormous number of virgin macs, along with an enormous pile of goodwill…which will then manifest itself as a wave of sales for other Steam games. Sure they lose a bunch of money on potential sales of Portal, but in return for this investment they will utterly dominate the mac gaming market right off the bat.

      Also, I’m about to email this news to everyone I know. “Shrewd” doesn’t begin to describe the brilliance of Valve’s PR department.

    • Vinraith says:


      All true. :) If they actually mean they’re giving the game away (that is, download it by the 24th and its yours) then giving away Portal makes all kinds of sense. If it’s time-limited play, it’s an odd choice unless…


      …that’s the case, which would totally explain it no matter what “free til the 24th” means.

    • robrob says:


      I think there’s a couple of reasons they went with Portal: its broad appeal and its self-contained story. Team Fortress 2 would likely not have had the same draw since I would imagine for something throwaway like this, people aren’t too interested in something they’d have to invest in – it would feel more like a demo. Offering one of the Half Life games would be difficult as Episode 2 would probably be the one to go for but it doesn’t make so much sense without the rest of the series.

      Having a small game independent of other franchises which can be digested in the free period and was received so positively seems like an ideal choice to me. I don’t think their intention here is to necessarily sell copies but to get Steam installed on as many systems as possible. The real strength of Steam is its cross-selling and sales, things they can only promote if people install the client to begin with.

    • Brumisator says:

      Cancelling the free game after a while would be very un-valve-like

    • robrob says:

      Sorry to have ended up repeating Veret’s point, I hit submit and a torrent of replies appeared. But yes, pretty much what he says.

    • Vinraith says:

      That depends on whether it’s a free game or a free demo, ala their free L4D, TF2, etc etc weekends. It’s not immediately clear which this is, though considering that Portal makes no sense as something time-limited, they must mean it as a genuinely free game. That wasn’t my original understanding of their meaning, hence my earlier question, but it all makes sense in that light.

    • robrob says:

      I had made the same assumption Vinraith but I suppose, thinking about it, it makes more sense just for it to be free to keep. Although I can’t find confirmation either way – does anyone know what is going with it? Do they revoke it after the free period?

    • Oneironaut says:

      It’s just been confirmed that portal will still be on your account after the 24th if you buy it now.

      link to forums.steampowered.com

    • Shadowmancer says:

      Actually TF2 is on the Mac already and is to be released soon, on a Mac blog it showed someone playing TF2 while in the closed Mac beta.

    • robrob says:


      Oh right, thanks!

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      And Portal is a couple of years old now. I expect Valve will make more money selling Portal 2 to those new to Portal now and wanting more than they would selling Portal to the much smaller number of new Steam users who they could convince to buy it at its previous price.

  4. frymaster says:

    I wasn’t sure myself, but the page doesn’t seem to imply “free to play” – it implies “free to get” i.e. if you get it now, it’ll still be on your account after the 24th

  5. Tei says:

    With Portal 2 comming, it just make sense :-)
    Also, Source running ( I suppose ) with OpenGL is also great news :-)
    And maybe a Linux version. Woa.

  6. Scandalon says:

    Nice throw-away. “Oh yea, you sniveling Mac users might be interested to know, since I’m feeling generous, Steam is out.”

    (But TF2 isn’t available yet. In fact, it’s not showing up at all. And steamcloud in Torchlight doesn’t appear to have synched up properly.)

    • PeopleLikeFrank says:

      Word from another forum was that the saves for Torchlight aren’t cross-platform compatible, so even if Steam Cloud is working, it won’t sync saves. That’s not the official word, though.
      edit: thanks, eph3meral.

    • eph3meral says:

      Actually that *is* the official word.

      “Note on SteamCloud support – the Mac version DOES support SteamCloud, however our implementation of that is not cross platform. i.e. you can migrate your saves from PC to PC, and Mac to Mac, and they won’t collide with one another, but your PC saves will not migrate to Mac and vice-versa. Our saves ( and all the other compressed files associated with them when using mods ) are not cross-platform, and we would have had to have thought of that a lot earlier to make it happen. This isn’t a limitation of Steam, it’s just how we initially wrote the game.”

      From here: link to forums.runicgames.com

    • LionsPhil says:

      That’s particularly lazy, given the days of endianess issues are long dead. (I’m going to go right ahead and assume outright that Steam + PowerPC = “hahaha no, buy a Mac from within the last four years”.)

      Mind you, World of Goo was the same—Win/Lin transfers fine, Mac are their own little island again. Pretty annoying, given that the “save” for that is a ridiculously small amount of state.

    • eph3meral says:

      Per Runic again,

      “It isn’t actually compression – it’s the wide character length differences on macs. Unfortunately, it means changes to ALL our binary formats – not just the saves themselves”

    • Scandalon says:

      Thanks Eph for that info. Thephinfo.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Oh god, it’s UTF-16 vs UTF-8 hate?

    • eph3meral says:

      Looks like. Though I’m sure they could just make a new savegame format that’s more crossplatformey, sheesh. They’d have to upgrade the old ones to it, but it can’t be *that* hard…

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      It could be as simple as a conversion interface to be executed at runtime during the savegame load. They wouldn’t need to change the savegames or the current code in any way, other than a call to this interface.

      The fact they won’t do it makes little sense except to say they don’t want to do it.

  7. Brant says:

    Super glad to see that the Civilization IV bundle I bought last week is available on the Mac side as well. This is especially interesting since Beyond The Sword never got a Mac port like the original game and Warlords did. I wonder if the Steam version will consist of Aspyr’s earlier Mac ports, or a new port entirely made by someone else? Did they finally get Aspyr to port BtS? How is revenue handled on Steam purchases, since Aspyr’s Mac ports were originally entirely separate products?

    Not so glad to see: The Mac versions of the Civ games aren’t actually available on Steam yet despite the store showing that they are. Which kind of takes the wind out of my enthusiasm, but if there’s anything working in IT has taught me, it’s that flawless rollouts of new platforms are mystical unicorn-like phenomena.

    • Anthony says:

      I was checking the Aspyr site they now appear to have BtS, so it’s probably safe to assume Steam is selling that version.

      Though it is kind of odd that they don’t get a mention in the game info pages. Just Firaxis/2K. Hrm.

    • Blather Blob says:

      @Brant: Civ IV isn’t listed as a title that still includes SteamPlay support even when purchased prior to today.

      Just the fact that Valve have that list, of games which include SteamPlay if previously owned, isn’t a great sign for the eventual inclusion of free SteamPlay when there’s a 3rd-party porting and publishing company like Aspyr involved. It looks like you might have to repurchase the package, assuming Steam eventually allows you to repurchase already owned bundles, or rather allow you to purchase a SteamPlay rights upgrade for already owned games. iTunes did something similar when it added higher-bitrate songs, right?

      It seems odd that they’d have a huge sale just days before releasing a not-included mac version, though. Also makes you wonder if having yet another publisher now involved means more resistance to such ridiculously good sales in the future.

  8. Malleus says:

    Lol … I registered the game to my account and tried to install it but Steam said the servers are too busy to handle my request. I wonder if Valve prepared for the onslaught that Free Portal means? :)

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Think they’ll be OK handling the extra few Mac users downloading one game compared to the millions who download every TF2, L4D2, Modern Warfare 2 etc update when they’re released.

  9. Vadermath says:

    I don’t own a Mac, but I’m kinda glad they’ll have something of a bigger gaming scene now thanks to Valve, who’ll be netting more cash from this, which will in turn allow them to make even more great games for the PC community they’ve catered to for so many years.

    Win-win, I say.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Prepare to have your games dumbed-down by having alt-fire on weapons removed. Macs don’t have a right-click.


    • Vadermath says:

      Blasphemy! Developers wouldn’t dumb down PC games for the sake of other platforms!


    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Old troll is old. For the first four of the last five years, All Apple mice have had four buttons (but default configuration setting is to act like a one-button). For the last six months, they’ve all had a two-button mouse (again default configuration). Neither of these mice support clicking left + right together, though.

    • Wolfox says:

      @Vadermath: I see what you did there, sir. Well played.

    • kyynis says:

      That “ONE LEADER, ONE NATION, ONE BUTTON” -default setting is frigging unbelievable. Our school has had spanking new Macs for almost a year now and I still haven’t figured out how to make those side buttons do something useful in the context of video editing. Not to mention that keyboards function-buttons can’t apparently be used to anything else than frakking sidebar-bullshite. No, I didn’t really want to use After Effects at all, I just wanted to see what time it is in New York…

      On the other note: Yay!

  10. subedii says:

    Portal costs only slightly less (or the same?) as the Orange Box. In real terms this is an ideal way of getting as many people as possible to install Steam right from the start. It’s a short game that you can play through in a few hours, so nobody’s going to avoid it for fear of not being able to finish it in time, it can get people interested in buying more stuff from Valve. And apart from getting people to install Steam it can serve as an overall demonstration of Steam’s features (achievements, community system, the regular sales). And if they want to play Portal again, then hey there’s this thing called the Orange Box which I’ve heard is good, and now completely Mac compatible.

    Heck, even the visual aesthetic of the game is ideally “Mac-like”. And whilst having a mature sense of humour, it’s also extremely family friendly, and is also easy for even non FPS fans, and even non-gamers to get a handle on. For the most part you can just pick it up and play, maybe use the arrow keys instead of WASD but that’s about it.

    I’m not sure they could have picked a better game to try and push Steam onto as many Macs as possible. Team Fortress 2 is good but probably too complex for people who aren’t big on multiplayer games in general, and you don’t want to introduce them to games via a potentially confusing and possibly hostile multiplayer environment right from the start. HL2 is a good game but maybe a bit too hardcore for non-gamers to start off with, not to mention it’s a long game to play through and being older it’s not as shiny as Portal is. Left 4 Dead is probably right out.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      It’s also a good way to promote the upcoming Portal 2.

      Yes, Portal was absolutely the best game Valve could have chosen for this. Pretty much a perfect business decision right here.

  11. Risingson says:

    A short game? I still haven’t completed it!

  12. Grawl says:

    It’s not free to play till the 24th, it’s free to add to your Steam account until the 24th. It’s yours if you add it, forever.

    • LionsPhil says:

      [citation needed]

    • Daniel Klein says:

      Straight from the horse’s mouth:

      Portal used to cost money. Until May 24th, it’s free. End of story.
      Well, technically speaking, there are some strings attached. Fortunately, they’re entirely decorative. We just like the way they look, swaying in the gentle breeze created by a million people simultanously fainting from shock at the news that Portal is free. Now you have no reason not to try Portal.
      “I have a reason,” some of you are probably typing into an angry email. “You see, sir, I own a Mac.”
      Well guess what: For the first time ever, Portal is also available for the Mac.
      “Capital news! But the excellent puzzle adventure Portal won over 40 Game of the Year awards; Surely it must cost at least five or six hundred dollars.”
      You’d think that, especially since it actually won over 70 Game of the Year Awards. But, like we keep saying, Portal is free. Free on the Mac. Free on the PC. But only until May 24th. So you only have a few days to decide if your free copy of Portal is worth the price we’re currently charging – which is you ever-so-slightly moving your index finger just barely enough to click the big red “download” button right there to the left.

      And have I mentioned before how much I *love* Valve’s writing? Of EVERYTHING? I’d buy a book of their random newsposts. The flair! The wit! The charm!

      brb changing pants

  13. Mistabashi says:


    “Prepare to have your games dumbed-down by having alt-fire on weapons removed. Macs don’t have a right-click.”

    I’m pretty sure all recent macs come as standard with multi-button mice – the iMac certainly does (it has two top buttons, two side buttons and a 4-way scroll wheel). It still just looks like a featureless pebble though, so it may be hard to tell.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I swear, I could put “DO NOT TAKE THIS POST SERIOUSLY IT IS IN JEST” in giant letters and people would still argue the point.

    • Paul B says:

      Although LionsPhil’s original post was meant to be taken in jest, it brings up a good point. What about all those Macbook and Macbook Pro owners, which only have one trackpad button (on the Pro, the trackpad is the whole button). I suppose you’d have to buy a usb mouse if you want to do any play TF2 or any FPS on them?

    • Mistabashi says:

      Seems my sarcasm detector needs re-calibrating again… I guess I should’ve bought the deluxe model with the extended warranty instead of being a cheapskate as usual, it would have saved me so much grief!

    • Bassism says:

      That’s actually a non-issue as well. All Intel based laptops have the capacity to do a right click by just putting two fingers on the trackpad. I’ve been gaming this way for years and have come to prefer it to mousing. The only drawback is again not being able to left+right click at the same time.

    • LionsPhil says:

      FPS + trackpad = horrible, horrible pain, regardless of the number of proper mouse buttons, or the limitations of the emulated ones.

      Especially an FPS that expects you to make fast, precise turns in mid-air when being thrown from portal to portal.

    • Bassism says:


      I agree in the majority of cases, but the Apple trackpads are large and sensitive enough that it works quite well with most games. I do draw a limit at twitch-based online shooters, where things do tend to get a bit to crazy, but I’m rubbish at them anyway. Portal plays beautifully on the trackpad, as do most games. I find it to be a more natural and immersive experience than mousing, and a lot of my friends have been converted, even those who originally scoffed.

      Anyway, it’s a personal preference thing, but to say that FPS + Trackpad = Horrible isn’t entirely accurate, at least not for every person and every game.

    • Paul B says:

      @Bassism – Good to know the two finger right-click works in games too. Haven’t had an Apple laptop since 2006 when I sold my Macbook, and didn’t really play any games to test the two finger method.

  14. Anthony says:

    Valve yet again shows how awesome they are generally.

  15. allen says:

    heres your citation

    link to forums.steampowered.com

    we will be able to keep it forever

    • LionsPhil says:

      Cheers, that’s sufficiently authorative and unambiguous.

      @Daniel: Yes, thank you, I can read the linked article. “Until” is a vague word when talking about a system that can network-revoke software licenses.

  16. JellyfishGreen says:

    Downloading now. When it says “Do you want to replace MacOS with GladOS”, I clicked “OK”.

  17. Psychopomp says:

    Considering I bought The Orange Box on the Xbox way back when, due to a broken computer at the time, all I have to say is HUZZAH!

  18. RedFred says:

    Well looks like I will be playing Portal after all.

  19. DJ Phantoon says:

    The important thing to note is that the entire internet needs to know this.

    Like, all of it.

  20. BuLong says:

    They have built a new gun…

  21. dragon_hunter21 says:


    Sometimes I love Valve.

  22. Bassism says:

    What the hell man, I signed up for the beta and heard nothing, and now it’s been released with free portal without even sending me an email? Marketing fail….

    Anyway, I’m happy to see it’s here. It’ll give me an excuse to play Portal again, and maybe the HL2 Episode Xes.

    Kinda wanna pick up Torchlight, since I still haven’t played it. Decisions….

  23. merc says:

    <3 you Valve

  24. jarvoll says:

    Solid-seeming claim that the linux client is also on its way.

    I know we all speculated on it when the Mac client was announced a month or so ago, but this is still crazy-exciting!

    • Mistabashi says:

      That post you linked to is about as reliable a source as… err… my balls, or something. Dammit, I know I had something better for that.

      The opening sentence in that article:

      “Valve Corporation has today rolled out their Steam Mac OS X client to the general public and confirmed something we have been reporting for two years: the Steam content delivery platform and Source Engine are coming to Linux.”

      So basically it seems they’ve based the whole article on the assumption that Steam on OSX = Steam on Linux, which is obviously pretty far off the mark.

    • Blather Blob says:

      @jarvoll: The whole “official confirmation” that article is crowing about is the last sentence in a Telegraph article, which says: Valve has also confirmed that it will make Steam available to Linux users in the coming months.

      That follows a summary of Steam’s history and functions, in an article whose only quote is clipped straight from the press release. It’s briefness and placement almost reads less like reporting of a new fact and more like they might be rereporting earlier speculation and confused it for a confirmed plan. It’s not quite enough for me to believe Valve confirmed Linux support to the Telegraph (in a conversation which didn’t affect the article’s straight-up rewriting of the press release in any other way) but kept quiet about it to everyone else.

      I guess it could be embargoed information that only the Telegraph accidentally published and everybody else is pointing to it because they know it’s true.

    • Mike Arthur says:

      There’s also Linux references in the launcher scripts and binaries, if you poke around. If they’ve ported to OSX, it’s pretty trivial to also port to Linux.

  25. Lambo says:

    I am so happy for you.

  26. Antithesis says:

    I was so happy for you

  27. the wiseass says:

    What our most beloved gaming platform needs it more companies like Valve and less companies like Ubisoft or Activision. They are frikkin’ proof that PC gaming is not dead yet, but that PC-gamers simply are a different bunch that needs to be treated differently from consoles.

    Yes the average PC-gamer is hard to please, but please him and you shall receive the love. I already own Portal and I don’t give a hot fart about Apple, but this is simply excellent.

    • Grunt says:

      Seconded, thirded, fourthed…etc.

      “PC-gamers simply are a different bunch that needs to be treated differently from consoles”

      Absolutely right. We’re much less likely to be hypnotised into opening our wallets by shiny objects and excitable marketing. :P

      Well done, Valve. Another very shrewd business move that benefits all involved. And thank you for finally giving me the perfect opportunity to play Portal after so long of meaning to get around to it but never quite managing to. I’ll be installing this tonight, for sure. :)

  28. porps says:

    nice, time to see what all the fuss was about. hope it lives up to the hype.

  29. MaxFrost says:

    Actually, this giveaway has a very different and sinister purpose. It gets steam installed on Macs. Installed userbase means greater sales, as they will see the Stream storefront every time they go to play a Stream game.

    Veeeeeeery sneaky :D

  30. Svenska says:

    Intel based macs only?

    Super dang…. :( :( :(

  31. sunkzero says:

    I bet some arse will still pirate it

  32. Fernando5567 says:

    With this you can add friends = D

  33. Lurch Kimded says:

    Just watched the release video:
    link to youtube.com

    IS it just me or does the very end imply multiplayer in Portal 2… or am I being slow and this is old news, or just over-analysing?